Bernie Sanders (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

They agree with Bernie: Majority of Americans support single-payer, "Medicare-for-all" health care system

Gallup poll: 58% of U.S. adults support Sanders' health care policy, including 73% of Dems and 41% of Republicans


Ben Norton
May 18, 2016 12:23AM (UTC)

A majority of Americans support the single-payer, "Medicare-for-all" style health care system proposed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

A new Gallup poll found that almost six in 10 U.S. adults would prefer a federally funded health care system that provides insurance for all Americans.

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Gallup presented the three leading presidential candidates' proposed health care policies, without naming the candidates, and asked participants what they thought of them. A majority of Americans agreed with Sanders' proposal, without knowing that it was his.

A substantial 58 percent of Americans said they favored the idea of replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, with a Medicare-for-all style system.

Only 37 percent of Americans, just over one-third, opposed replacing the ACA with single-payer.

Views predictably split on partisan lines.

Almost three-fourths, 73 percent, of Democrats or Democratic-leaning Americans support replacing the ACA with a Medicare-for-all style system. Only 22 percent oppose this.

A sizeable 41 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning Americans also support replacing Obamacare with a single-payer system, while 55 percent oppose it.

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Only 16 percent of right-wing Americans support keeping the ACA in place, whereas many conservatives "apparently want the ACA repealed to replace it with an even more" progressive health care system, Gallup found.

The poll shows that the single-payer universal health care system proposed by Sanders, a system that has been adopted by almost every industrialized nation in the world, is in fact wildly popular.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has flatly insisted that such a single-payer system will "never, ever come to pass," yet the current system she and the Democratic Party support is fact significantly less popular, and incredibly divisive.

A slight majority of Americans, 51 percent, agreed with Donald Trump's policy, to repeal the ACA. Another 45 percent of Americans would oppose this.

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Less than half of Americans, 48 percent, expressed support for Hillary Clinton's policy, to keep the ACA in place. Another 49 percent disagreed.

Roughly one-third, 35 percent, of Americans said they would favor either keeping the ACA in place or replacing it with a federally funded universal health care system. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning Americans, 59 percent support both policies.

If those who support either option were forced to choose between the two, however, more than two-thirds, 64 percent, would prefer a federally funded single-payer style system.

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For the poll, Gallup surveyed a random sample of 1,549 adults between May 6 and May 8.

Single-payer and the presidential campaign

In early 2015, five years after the single-payer option was scrapped from the ACA, more than half of Americans said they still support it.

President Obama campaigned on the promise to support the the single-payer option in health care reform, but later backed off on his pledge, after being elected.

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The 2016 presidential campaign has reignited the debate about the U.S. health care system and single-payer.

Virtually all European countries, much of Latin America, Russia and even Saudi Arabia provide universal health care. The U.S. is the only country in the OECD, aside from Mexico, that does not guarantee health care to all of its citizens.

Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, has made the call for single-payer health care a key demand of his campaign.

In a presidential debate in January, Sanders called for a Medicare-for-all program that "finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right." He added that such a policy was mainstream in the U.S. in the 1940s and '50s.

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Sanders noted that, while he was on the committee that helped to draft the ACA, it does not go nearly far enough. He criticized it for leaving 29 million Americans without health insurance, and stressed that Obamacare still leaves Americans “with huge copayments and deductibles.”

Clinton lambasting Sanders, accusing him of being unreasonable and of threatening to undo the ostensible progress made on health care.

In the debate, Clinton insisted she is “absolutely committed to universal health care.” Yet less than two weeks later, she aggressively declared that it will "never, ever" happen and told voters to stop the "theoretical debate."

Sanders has blasted the privatized U.S. health care system, which is one of the most expensive in the industrialized world, yet is simultaneously the worst.

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“Tell me why we are spending almost three times more than the British, who guarantee health care to all of their people,” Sanders said in the debate. He pointed out that the U.S. pays more than Canadians on health care, and 50 percent more than the French.

“We are paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, getting ripped off,” Sanders added. “We are spending far more per person on health care than the people of any other country.”


Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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